Astrophysicist finds fastest method of plane boarding.

Actually, this is another thing that annoyed the fuck out of me on my recent trip.

The flight attendant who was taking drink orders in First Class was actually making it difficult for the rest of the passengers to move down the aisle. I realize that paying an extra few hundred bucks for your ticket entitles you to some alcohol in a plastic cup, but i would have thought that getting the airplane filled with people and off the ground should be the first priority, even for the passengers in First Class.

It’s not that first class has to board first, it is that first class can board first, or at any other time they choose in the process. They are paying a premium so that they don’t have to be kept around waiting.

Amen to this. I love Southwest. It’s like the airline for travelers who know what they’re doing.

I always get a small twinge of schadenfreude when I see a first class passenger in the aisle seat looking grouchy at the cattle shuffling past to coach. That’s like the last place I’d want to be stuck in for half an hour.

Call up Southwest and give 'em that line for a full page magazine add. Have that line over a picture of the family of 6 shuffling people around with giant suitcases sticking out of the overhead bins.

The airline for travelers who know what they’re doing.


It is!

When I fly on a plane with an assigned seat I’ve learned to just sit back in the terminal and watch the crowd. I mean, why not? The plane isn’t going anywhere and I already have an assigned seat so there’s no rush to get onto the plane. I don’t care about overhead bin space because the carry on I use fits under the seat in front of me.

What I’ve noticed is that there’s a crowd of people that lines up to get on the plane about 20 minutes before the call goes out for pre-boarding. They tend to stay near the gate check person so they can be first in line when their group gets called - if they’re not allowed to board they tend to get in the way of those actually boarding.

Despite the people milling up front a line still forms. But it’s a guarantee that some asshole is not going to like the fact that he has to get in a long line when he can just create a line of his own and “zipper” in. I have no problem with the zipper in practice, but these guys piss me off to no end - they’re just looking for a nicer way of saying they’re cutting in line. So - very quickly - the line to get onto the airplane is at least 3 or 4 lines and it’s just a mass of people with little structure all trying to be the next to have their ticket scanned.

Out of the madness comes order. Once the people who have no concept of lines or manners works their way onto the plane the final group of people line up. The final people who board the plane all tend to be more laid back. They form a single line with appropriate personal space between them. I also notice that this group tends to be more prepared - their boarding passes are out and they know where they need to be so they don’t obstruct others.

I’m usually one of the last 10 people to board the plane - and when I do most of the madness in the cabin has subsided. I just walk on, go to my seat, throw my bag under the seat in front of me and sit down right before the door closes. No muss no fuss.

Frazzled, do you always get an aisle seat? If I’m travelling alone & have an aisle seat, I use your method. But if I have a window seat, I try to board as soon as possible. I’m a fairly big guy, so there’s no way I’m getting to that window seat without the aisle & middle seat occupants getting up and moving out into the aisle to make way for me. In that situation, I want to get to the seat before them, hunker down, and ignore the rest of the boarding situation.

I prefer window if it’s available (I really prefer the front window). I’m a 6’ tall guy and usually the 2 do have to get out to let me in - but that still beats dealing with overhead luggage.

But if you can afford to fly first class, you can afford to relax with a drink in the airport bar while the peons scramble for bin space ahead of you. What’s the advantage of being on the plane while that happens?

I think the airlines might be more efficient if they charged you for carry on instead of charging you for checked bags. Checked bags are handled in advance, shouldn’t delay loading, etc., so they should be, in theory, more efficient. The advantage of carry on is speed out of the airport, so it’s going to be worth it to some subset of passengers, and they can make it free for frequent flyers, first class, etc. Since you can’t deny people their purses and laptop bags you can just charge for anything placed in the overhead bins or closets.

As for why first class gets on first, a lot of the mouth breathers mentioned by others will stow their crap in the first class bins and then walk on to the back of the plane. Overheads in first class do fill up, more so on some flights than others. 757s seem to be one of the best plane designs that makes things a little better, since they usually board these on the back doors between first and coach.

If I’m in first, it’s because I got bumped to it for being a relative of a United member. But for people who can (or their businesses can) afford it, I suppose the airlines figure that “first class” means “first in line” and “last to be ignored”. I agree there are more efficient ways of doing things, but airlines aren’t known for being efficient when it comes to customer service. Plus they allow themselves quite a bit of time for departure/arrival people shuffles and the queue n their flight plans, which is why your flight time on your ticket isn’t the actual time in the air - it’s about the time in the air + 30+ mins. They already give us plenty of time to board, so it makes sense they’re satisfied with corralling us like sheep.

This sounds like one of those stupid ideas Lisa Simpson, Professor Frink, Comic Book Guy and their “Council of Learned Citizens” came up with that sound clever on paper but don’t work in real life.

If what we wanted was efficiency, the seats in the waiting area would be numbered and arranged to duplicate layout of the actual plane. Then you call folks to board in the order that gives the least amount of waiting for the guy in front of you to stick his stupidly oversized carry-on luggage into the overhead.

What we actually want is preferential treatment in favor of the folks who provide the most profit to the airlines.


I lived for awhile in Southeast Asia, where people have a much different idea of line etiquette. On the first announcement for boarding passengers needing special assistance, every single person at the gate queued up (more or less) to board. Boarding was markedly faster because people stowing luggage got about five to ten seconds to do it, then people starting pushing past them. I’d estimate an entire 777 was boarded in less than 15 minutes from the first call. Can your astrophysicist do that?

Heh. I remember boarding with an actual diabled person in Bangkok. Said person was physically incapable of walking. The rest of the staff and passengers could not possibly have been less helpful. I ended up carrying a 100-pound person up the stairs from the tarmac to a 747, which is a lot of stairs, after everyone else had boarded and the gate staff had (falsely) assured me that all the passengers were seated.

I really hate airplane festival seating and every time I’ve flown Southwest, boarding has been a absolute, shove people out of the way, cattle call. (Yeah, I know, when isn’t boarding a cattle call?) I still want to know ahead of time that I’m going to spend 4 hours in the seat I booked by the window, instead of worrying if I’ll wind up squished in the middle.


That sums it up perfectly. I just did a roundtrip flight to San Francisco. On the overbooked flight back home, a father and his ~15 year old daughter boarded first and she took the window seat and he took the middle seat next to her. Two minutes later, the passenger who had reserved the middle seat arrived to find her assigned seat taken. She then began to argue with the passengers and then three different flight attendants. The passenger finally ended up moving 3 rows ahead to swap with a different middle seat passenger so she could sit between two strangers. :confused:

stpauler, what’s unreasonable about that? The person had a ticket with a seat number on it, why shouldn’t she have an expectation of sitting in that seat? What’s unreasonable is to sit in a seat that is not the one you’ve been assigned, then arguing with the person assigned that seat during boarding.

Try flying SWA sometime on a Friday evening out of Love Field, and you’ll question that statement. Ma & Pa Kettle don’t do any better on SWA than they do on AA- the flight attendants are just more aggressive on SWA, that’s all.

Still, there’s no flight experience quite like a 7 am Dallas-Houston flight on a Tuesday morning. Everybody gets on, puts their bags up, and the plane’s ready to go less than 5 minutes after the last group is allowed to get on.

In my experience, the biggest issue with boarding on other airlines is carry on bags. My estimate is that 40-50% of people’s carry on bags are way too big in at least one dimension to fit in that box by the gate (the one that supposedly shows the carry on luggage regulations). They ought to enforce that size limit mercilessly and make anything that’s bigger than that box go in the hold, no exceptions.

As in no exceptions for those dipshits with the massive musical instruments that just have to go in the overhead bin and take up 3/4 of it. If he’s going to fly with it, he should get a fucking Pelican case for it or leave it at home.